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Measure aims to help unmarried fathers fulfill their parental responsibilities

Senior Editor Top Stories
Rep. Clay Yarborough

Rep. Clay Yarborough

A Senate panel has approved a measure, backed by the Family Law Section, that would, among other things, make it easier for unmarried fathers to fulfill their parental responsibility.

The Senate Children, Families & Elder Affairs Committee voted 8-0 Tuesday to approve SB 1146 by Sen. Clary Yarborough, R-Jacksonville.

Yarborough told the panel that the measure, “Shared Parental Responsibility After the Establishment of Paternity” clarifies existing law in a way that encourages responsible fatherhood.

“It places unmarried fathers who have shown an interest…in the same position as a married father,” Yarborough said.

A recent Family Law Section white paper identified “gaps” in existing law “concerning parental rights and responsibilities of unwed parents after the acknowledgment or establishment of paternity.”

Jacksonville Magistrate Kristi Beth Luna told the panel that the Family Law Section supports the measure because it will clarify existing law and promote better parenting.

“This bill is good legislation, it is positive for families in Florida, for children in Florida, and for fathers in this state,” she said.

SB 1146 faces additional vetting by the Judiciary and Rules committees.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 18-0 on March 9 to approve a companion, HB 775, by Rep. Christopher Benjamin, D-Miami Gardens.

It faces one more stop, in Judiciary, before reaching the House floor.

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